The good news is that chocolate is actually healthy for us.
The bad news is that we must be selective in the quality of chocolate we choose in order for it to work to our benefit. Lots of chocolate on the market is not nutritious and can work against us.
So, before you go out and start chomping on handfuls of M&M’s, keep reading. (Yes, Mr. Non-Compliant, this means YOU!)
High quality dark chocolate of at least 70% cocoa (or cacao) contains an assortment of minerals, including manganese, copper, and magnesium. (I’m using cocoa and cacao interchangeably here, although there are slight differences.)
In the same way that whole foods offer the best form of nutrients, so does pure cacao.
A serving of 100% cacao powder (2½ tablespoons) contains 4 grams of protein, 49mg of caffeine, and 195mg of flavanols.
The flavanols in cocoa can protect against sun damage, improve blood flow to the skin, and increase skin density and hydration. (This is in addition to your current skin care routine.)
In spite of this, may I suggest that you not take your chocolate treats to the beach on a hot summer day.
Cocoa antioxidants boost heart health when eaten in moderate amounts, about one ounce, several times a week. These same powerful antioxidants are found in blueberries and acai berries.
A regular treat of a square or two can reduce stress hormones, help lower blood pressure, and improve circulation.
Chocolate may even improve brain function by increasing blood flow to the brain.
Minimally processed with few added ingredients and low sugar, dark chocolate is a treat that makes lots of people happy. It also contains unique natural substances that create a sense of euphoria similar to the feeling of being in love.
People all across the globe would benefit from eating some chocolate. My friend Barb stated, “A day without chocolate is like a day without sunshine.” There you have it.
At your next gathering, consider offering a snack or dessert tray with assorted berries, nuts, and squares of dark chocolate. There are a variety of chocolate bar brands that comply. You could even make your own Chocolate Nut Clusters using a dark chocolate that best suits your taste buds, increasing the cacao amount as you get used to the richer chocolate flavor.
I like to make a hot cocoa drink with oat milk (use your milk of choice), about a tablespoonful of 100% cacao powder, a scoop of collagen, and a dash of pure maple syrup. It’s a treat that satisfies as well as offers lots of nutrients.
In summary, the higher the cacao amount in your chocolate, the lower the sugar content and the greater the health benefits. Keep serving size to about an ounce.
Remember, you can train your taste buds over time. You cannot train the taste buds of your loved ones (unwillingly), unless you’re very, very sneaky.
Grateful for chocolate,
“Chocolate comes from cocoa, which is a tree that makes it a plant. Chocolate is salad.”–Anonymous